6 bucketlist experiences in Guatemala

Looking for some incredible bucketlist experiences to have in Guatemala? In this blog post I am sharing my TOP 6 bucketlist experiences in Guatemala with you.

Guatemala is a very unique country and so are the bucketlist experiences to have there – unique! Being home to 37 volcanoes (3 of them constantly active) a lot of the experiences on my list involve volcanoes.

Let´s dive into it!

Guatemala bucketlist cover

1. Witness a volcano eruption

Starting if off with my favorite bucketlist experience in Guatemala and one of the  most incredible experience I ever had – witness an active volcano erupt. I mean how cool is that?!

The most active volcano in Guatemala is volcano Fuego (means fire). It´s  erupting every few minutes, sometimes having bigger and sometimes smaller eruptions. Quite frequently it had quite a few bigger eruptions causing local fires.

The eruptions can be seen as a big smoke/ ash cloud during the day and as a lava explosion at night.

Due to the size of the eruptions, they can be seen from quite a distance, even from certain places in Antigua, on a clear day.

My favorite way to witness the eruption from pretty close up tho is to hike the neighboring and not active volcano Acatenango (this hike is another bucketlist experience to have in Guatemala on this list). Also check out this more detailed blog post about the Acatenango hike.

It is a once in a lifetime experience to see a volcano erupt and Guatemala is one of the easiest and most accessible options to do so.

volcano Fuego eruption
Acatenango hike with views of erupting volcano Fuego

2. Explore one of the most important Maya ruins - Tikal

If you are planning a trip to Central America, you certainly know that it is home to many incredible Maya ruins. One of the most important and largest Maya ruins are located in Guatemala – Tikal.

A visit to this incredible archeological site should definitely be on your Guatemala bucketlist.

Even though the ruins themselves are not more impressive or bigger than other ruins I have visited, however the size of the National Park as well as it´s history are really impressive and unique. Only 5%!! of the area has been excavated and restored.

Tikal is located in the North of Guatemala, not far from the Belizean border. The most popular option is to visit Tikal as part of a day tour from Flores, however if you have your own car or rental car, I highly recommend visiting by yourself and eventually hiring a tour guide at the ruins to learn about the impressive history.

Make sure to keep your eyes open for wildlife while exploring the area. It is common to see coatis, wild turkeys, frogs, many different birds, howler monkeys and if you are very lucky even a jaguar.

The entrance fee for the park is pretty expensive (about 20 USD), but worth it in my opinion.

Be sure to add this bucketlist experience in Guatemala to your to-do list.

daytrip to Tikal ruins

3. Enjoy a pizza baked over lava

Yes, you read that right! You can have pizza that has been baked over lava of an active volcano in Guatemala! More precisely: volcano Pacaya.

This is one of the best things to do in and around Antigua as well. 

This volcano is, after Fuego, one of the most active ones in the country.

When my friend first told me you can have pizza that is baked over lava there, I thought she was joking…But in fact she wasn´t – I had one of the best pizzas of my life after finishing the hike up the volcano.

We hired a guide to do the hike up the volcano (which is required, you cannot hike by yourself) and also booked the pizza experience separately.

I am sharing the Whatsapp contact for both down here, if you are interested:

Jymmy – tour guide: +502 37374128

David – pizza: +502 57430259

The hike itself is not too difficult (especially compared to the Acatenango hike) and only takes about 1 ½ hours. We (4 persons) shared one large pizza, the price was about 30 USD, had to be paid to David directly. Yes, quite expensive but also so cool!

Another famous thing on the Pacaya volcano is to grill marshmallows, which we did not do, as we were too full from the pizza haha

Highly recommend this unqiue bucketlist experience in Guatemala. 

pizza baked over lava
Pacaya volcano hike

4. Hike volcano Acatenango

Yes, another bucketlist experience in Guatemala that involves a volcano!

This one actually can be combined with bucketlist experience #1, witnessing a volcano eruption.

As already mentioned in the first part of this blog post, some of the best views of erupting volcano Fuego are from neighboring volcano Acatenango.

While the hike is very strenuous (at least for me as a medium fitness level when it comes to hiking) but SO WORTH IT.

The hike takes about 5-7 hours and is uphill the entire duration of the hike. The summit of Acatenango is 3976 m. 

Tours mostly include meals (lunch, dinner and breakfast) as well as the tents and sleeping bags. Make sure to check in advance what is included and compare different operators.

I personally booked this overnight hike with GetyourGuide and even though, it is a bit more expensive than other options, I really enjoyed the tour and I had a great guide as well as very delicious food.

Check out THIS detailed blog post with everything you need to know before hiking volcano Acatenango!

This experience HAS TO BE on every Guatemala bucketlist. Even if you are not the fittest, you will make it and the views will reward 100x for the efforts of getting up.

last steps before reaching the base camp of volcano Acatenango
erupting volcano Fuego

5. Take a dip in Central America´s deepest lake - Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is the deepest (and probably most beautiful) lake in Central America. It was once formed by volcanic activity – there you go, another bucketlist experience that involves volcanoes.

The lake is HUGE and surrounded by many volcanoes, offering incredible views.

Lago Atitlan is surrounded by 12 indigenous villages and 22!! Different laguages are spoken around that lake! Let that sink in! 22 different languages around one single lake – it´s insane!

Riding a boat through the lake is a bucketlist experience itself, so is kayaking or paddleboarding on the lake as well as swimming in the lake.

There are many places from where you can take a dip in the lake.

I personally camped at Pasaj Cap in San Marcos La Laguna, they have a private dock and a great area for swimming.

Make sure to add Lake Atitlan to your Guatemala itinerary, it is very worth it!

swimming off the dock area at Pasaj Cap
Casa del Mundo

6. Hike the Indian Nose for sunrise

The Indian Nose is located at Lake Atitlan and after a short hike you can enjoy THE MOST STUNNING sunrise views.

The short and easy hike make it a great bucketlist experience in Guatemala for pretty much anyone, regardless of fitness level or age.

One of the easiest ways to cross this experience off your to-do list is to go on a group tour. Prices start at about 10 USD per person.

Now I am not really a tour person, so I did not book a group tour.

Due to having read about robberies and other events at this hike, I decided against going alone. I went along with another girl from my campground and we hired a tuktuk driver to take us there and also do the hike with us. We ended up paying a little more than 10 USD per person, but the transfer from San Marcos was quite long and we did not have to join a larger group, which was great.

This was probably my very favorite sunrise ever, the views over the lake and different volcanoes and the rising sun is just stunning. On a clear day, you can even see Fuego erupt in the distance.

Definitely add this bucketlist experience in Guatemala to your to-do list!

sunrise hike Indian Nose

As I said, most of those experiences somehow involve a volcano – for me Guatemala is THE COUNTRY of volcanoes and you can have so many once in a lifetime experiences here. I highly recommend adding Guatemala to your to-do list as soon as possible if this kind of adventures sound like your cup of tea.

Make sure to check out other Guatemala blog posts to help plan your perfect trip: